According to a recent study, nearly 86 percent of scientists who reported loving their jobs could trace their interest in science to someone they knew or an experience they had when they were 7 to 10 years old. This finding demonstrates the critical importance of solid science instruction for elementary students. And yet, No Child Left Behind-mandated tests stress language arts and math over the content areas.
What’s the solution to this problem? Integrating science and language arts. Coupling inquiry-based science lessons and language arts instruction allows educators to prepare students for the critical reading and open response portions of NCLB tests without neglecting science education. And here’s the good news: It’s much easier than you might think.
Over the last few years, I’ve developed a number of ways to sneak key science concepts into popular language arts teaching strategies. These include:
- using science-themed picture books in Reading Buddies programs
- adapting science-themed picture books into Readers Theater scripts that students will love practicing and performing
- pairing fiction and nonfiction books to introduce and reinforce science concepts dictated by the National Science Education Standards
So far, I’ve received nothing but positive feedback from the teachers who have tried my ideas in their classrooms, so I’m hard at work developing more.
I hope it won’t be long before programs like Partnership for Twenty-first Century Skills begin to move our educational system in new and exciting directions. But until that time comes, sprinkling science content into language arts lessons is one way to make sure that elementary students have access to solid science instruction.